Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Around a third of worst-hit England constituencies have no vaccine centre, LBC finds
6 January 2021, 10:38
Nearly a third (29%) of the 100 worst-hit constituencies in England have no vaccination centre yet, according to data analysis by LBC.
The vaccination rollout continues to be a postcode lottery as some of the country's worst affected areas - particularly in London, Kent and Essex - do not yet have a hospital or GP surgery delivering vaccines.
Last week the Sunday Times identified the relative levels of vaccine provision across England’s Parliamentary constituencies; LBC then used a method developed by statistician Dan Cookson to map local infection rates onto Parliamentary constituencies.
Combining the two sets of data, we've been able to pinpoint areas with high infection rates that are currently left out of the vaccine rollout.
Dagenham and Rainham, in East London, is the worst affected area in the country with an estimated infection rate of 1364 per 100,000 people, or nearly double the UK average - and yet it has no provision.
However, sites do exist within the wider Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and Havering.
The London constituency of East Ham is the second worst area of England with no vaccine centre. Although like Dagenham and Rainham, there are vaccine centres within the local borough of Newham.
East Ham MP Stephen Timms said: “I’m very keen my constituents should get fast and efficient to the vaccines. Both vaccination centres in Newham happen to be in another constituency and that does mean they’re not easy to get to for my constituents. But I’m assured the NHS is paying the taxi fare to make sure people can get to them. I definitely want to see more vaccination centres here in East Ham.”
Of course in cities like London with good transport links, getting to the nearest centre may not prove overly difficult but for those who are high risk, boarding a tube or riding in a taxi may be daunting or even dangerous.
Where it becomes significantly harder is in more rural constituencies, with less effective public transport. By our estimate, Braintree which encompasses a large area of rural Essex is the 26th worst hit constituency in England, and yet again it has no hospitals or GPs handing out the vaccine.
Analysis by the Sunday Times found that 1.7 million people had to travel 20 miles to their nearest centre. Clearly for those over 80 who are first in line to be vaccinated, that is a harder task than for younger, more mobile people.
The Department for Health says that hundreds more vaccine sites are due to come online over the next few weeks and that where possible, roving vaccine teams will aim to visit vulnerable people at their usual place of residence.
Minister for Covid vaccine deployment, Nadhim Zahawi said: “Over a million people have already been vaccinated right across the UK. The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan for the biggest mass vaccination campaign this country has ever seen.
“We are going to accelerate the rollout in the coming days and weeks. Vaccinations have been rolled out to more than 730 sites, with up to 100 more hospital sites due to come online shortly, plus 180 more local GP-led services.
“Throughout the pandemic we have worked hand-in-hand with local authorities and Directors of Public Health and will continue to do so as the vaccine is rolled out.”